Clean hands save lives – World Hand Hygiene Day in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia


Recognizing hand hygiene as one of the most effective measures for infection prevention and control, the WHO Country Office helped celebrate World Hand Hygiene Day on 5 May 2016 with the slogan: "See your hands – hand hygiene supports safe surgical care". Improving hand hygiene practices involves all surgical services through the continuum of care from surgical wards to operating theatres, to outpatient surgical services.

The municipality of Veles hosted a technical meeting, with the participation of more than 50 medical professionals from hospital surgical wards in the Veles region and from the cities Demir Kapija, Gevgelija, Kavadarci, Kocani, Negotino, Radovis, Stip and Strumica.

Dr Golubinka Boshevska, National Coordinator for Antimicrobial Resistance at the National Public Health Institute, opened the meeting and said, "Hands are the most elementary way of transmitting microorganisms when providing health care. The consequences are serious infections especially in critically ill patients, prolonged hospitalization, long-term disability, and the financial burden on patients and their families and the health system, but the major one is the loss of human lives."

Professor Dr Kaka Popovska-Jovanovska, Professor of Microbiology, Medical Faculty in Skopje, highlighted the importance of proper hand hygiene in hospitals and the need to improve this practice in surgical departments and wards. She said, "Hospital infections associated with surgical interventions are a risk for every medical institution and are becoming a larger public health problem." She pointed out the key WHO guidelines related to this important area of work.

Professor Dr Nikola Panovski, Professor of Microbiology, Medical Faculty in Skopje, provided an overview of the trends of intrahospital infections in the country, highlighting that good hand hygiene is the simplest and most cost-effective way in tackling infections caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria in hospital settings.

World Hand Hygiene Day was celebrated for the third time in the country. It was supported by the Multisectoral Committee for Antimicrobial Resistance in the Ministry of Health, the National Public Health Institute, the Institute of Microbiology and Parasitology at the Medical Faculty in Skopje, and the Centre for Regional Policy Research and Cooperation (Studiorum).

WHO posters and other promotional materials were translated into the local language and distributed to hospitals countrywide. The campaign is part of the WHO Country Office's support for the implementation of the National Health 2020 Strategy and the Sustainable Development Goals.

SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands

Each year, this campaign aims to progress the goal of maintaining a global profile on the importance of hand hygiene in health care and to bring people together in support of hand hygiene improvement globally.